Eric Senich of the Van Halen News Desk

by Corey O'Flanagan

Eric Senich has been enamored with Van Halen since Christmas Eve 1988, when he found his brother's 5150 cassette. "When I listened to that, I was like, Wow this makes me feel something special. And so I played it right through, turned it over, and played it again. It was at that point I became a fan of rock and roll music."

Eric hosts the DISCovery podcast, where he breaks down albums, artists and songs and helps you discover the incredible stories surrounding them. In a more recent episode he went away from his normal production standards and just poured his heart out about the loss of one of his lifelong heroes, Eddie Van Halen.

Just over a week had passed when we sat down with Eric to talk about the evolution of Van Halen and Eddie's legacy.

The Van Halen News Desk

The Van Halen News Desk is a continuation of Inside Magazine, which was the official magazine of Van Halen from 1995 to 2000, run by Jeff Hausman. It was like Christmas morning every few months for me when those articles would come out, so when Jeff asked me to be a contributor to VHND I was thrilled.

It not only keeps everybody up to date on what's happening with Van Halen, but has also became something of a feature story type of thing with blogs and Top 10 lists. It is a great community and a place for fans to keep up with everything that is going on.

Learning about Eddie's passing

I was at work and my boss just randomly blurted out that Eddie had died and then she saw the look on my face - I was devastated. She just didn't realize how big of a fan I am and apologized and let me go home early.

I was in shock. I called the local radio station I used to work at and gave my thoughts to my buddy who was on the air. The texts and the emails were coming in nonstop. Inspired by a very real and raw YouTube video I watched by Rick Beato, I then came home, turned on the microphone, and just opened up.

If you listen to that episode, I open up about some personal stuff with my dad. The news made me think of my dad and what Wolfgang, Eddie's son, is going through. Eddie is the rock god to me and the millions of fans who never met him, but he's still a human being. We have known about his struggle with tongue cancer since 2002. His struggle came around the same time as my dad's did, and this was what popped into my head when I heard the news. It has all been very emotional.

Drawing by Brian Hand

Eddie's legacy

I would have to describe Eddie as an innovator, and then a musician. He was so much more than just a guitarist. He was a genius.

I always say Hendrix opened the door and then Eddie came through after. Objectively speaking, Hendrix has to be the greatest rock and roll guitarist of all time, simply because without him, where would electric guitar be?

Eddie went and watched Zeppelin, and he witnessed Jimmy Page doing some finger tapping on the fretboard and he thinks, hey that's cool, I'm gonna try that. And what did he do with it? I think we know.

Beyond Eddie's guitar talents, he's a classically trained pianist. So in the midst of the mid-'80s electric guitar era, he wanted to bring in more synth and keyboard sounds. Combining the guitar and keyboard the way that Eddie did, the effect was amazing. Now we have all of these musicians influenced by Eddie.

He wanted to make music and he fought for it. So I guess his legacy is following his heart doing what he felt was best for a song even if it displeased fans and even bandmates.

Favorite song

"Hot For Teacher" is probably my favorite song, but ask me tomorrow! I would have to go with that one only because that song marked the culmination of everything that they had worked towards. You've got Alex's iconic drumming intro, David Lee's lyrics are brilliant, and Eddie's boogie riff that he just loved. Michael Anthony has incredible backup vocals.

The progression of Van Halen

I was born in '72, so I became a fan during the Sammy era. I had all these connections, going through high school and the rough times there and having that era of Van Halen getting me through it. I can certainly understand if somebody was born in '62 and they're a fan of the Dave era, and they're like, What is this? I don't want to hear ballads. This is not Van Halen... I totally get it. I'm going to try to avoid getting into that whole war between Van Halen and Van Hagar and pay the proper tribute to Eddie.

Musically, this era allowed Eddie to be a complete artist and write whatever he wanted to. I always wanted Dave to be back in the band because I never got to experience that era - it was almost mythical. But I am more than happy with what they came out with post-Dave.

Eric Senich

"Right Now"

This is a song that Eddie wrote during the Dave era, and he didn't want anything to do with it. When Dave left, Eddie was considering other people joining the band, and was considering an album with multiple singers, one of them being Joe Cocker. He envisioned Joe Cocker singing that song. Sammy wasn't even feeling that song until 1991. I believe the album was done, and Sammy was playing pinball and Eddie the piano, and all of a sudden he started playing. Sam was feeling it. He was going through his divorce at the time and I think he filled in the rest of the lyrics.

This is just another example of Eddie being able to be an artist.

Eddie and Wolf

Wolfgang saved Eddie's life. In 2007 Wolfgang and Eddie were just jamming, and Wolfgang apparently just says, "Hey Dad, you know it would be cool to have Dave come down and jam with us."

Wolfgang literally calls up David Lee's voicemail and leaves a message saying, "Hi Dave, this is Wolfgang. I'm Eddie's son. We wondered if you would like to come over and jam with us."

Ten minutes later David Lee calls Eddie back and then from there he was back. For Eddie to be on stage with his son, that was special. That's what got Eddie out of that hole he was in.

For Eddie, it's not about being a rock god or being Van Halen. He just wanted to be up there with his son and in the moment.

October 21, 2020
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Further reading:
Van Halen Songfacts
How Eddie Van Halen revolutionized rock guitar
Van Halen In Photos 1979-1982

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